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France May Open Door For Shale Development

Geraldine Amiel, Dow Jones

French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg Monday reiterated that the merits of shale gas should be explored in France. Mr. Montebourg’s comments precede the release later in the day of a government-requested report on France’s competitiveness, which should recommend that potential shale gas fields are explored as a way to lower France’s energy imports and costs, according to the minister.

The industry minister’s comments underscore divisions in the French government over the country’s energy mix strategy, as French President Francois Hollande has pledged to forbid hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” through which high-pressurized water, chemicals and sand are pumped into shale rock to release trapped natural gas, citing risks to the environment.

A report issued in April following a request from the previous government said French shale oil and gas fields are potentially some of the most promising in Europe and banning exploration before the reserves are assessed could be detrimental to France’s economy and labor market.

Dow Jones, 5 November 2012